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Strong female leads?

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Jan 19, 2009, 8:29pm Top

Can anyone recommend good sci-fi with strong kick-a$$ heroines? Preferably as the main protagonist (no fem slash though please).

Jan 19, 2009, 8:44pm Top

There's tons of strong women in sf and f, from Joanna Russ and other to Chicks in Chainmail. It'd help to have some books you like to narrow the list down.

Jan 19, 2009, 8:46pm Top

A quick list from my library. I use that tag a bit.

Ariane Emory from Cyteen (not kick ass but definite strong female main protagonist);

for "kick-ass" try:
Staff Sargeant Tobin Kerr from Tanya Huff's Valor series. The first is valor's Choice;
Honor Harrington - (the earlier books are more readable);
Path of the Fury - one off also by David Weber

the Telzey and Trigger stories by James H. Schmitz (stupid touchstones, here you go http://www.librarything.com/author/schmitzjamesh );

and it's years since I read it, but I rememberTabitha Jute in Take Back Plenty as a fairly strong female main character. Can't recall how I'd rate her on a kick-ass scale though :-)

Jan 19, 2009, 8:49pm Top

Well, to tell you the truth, I'm somewhat of a newcomer to the genre. I think the last sci-fi I read was a couple of Bujold books years ago, but the main protag was male and I got seduced away to another series. I'm just now coming back to the fold.

I left it open because I didn't want to seem too picky. But if you want me to narrow it down... I'm not so much into urban I think. I like quasi-military settings/characters (i.e. Battlestar Galatica).

Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 9:13pm Top

"I like quasi-military settings/characters (i.e. Battlestar Galatica)."

Then you would almost certainly like David Weber's Honor Harrington series. Some describe it as reminiscent of Horatio Hornblower translated into a far future star empires type setting.

If we're throwing fantasy as well as SF into the mix, you might consider Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett. It's about a young lady who runs off and joins the army disguised as a boy. In a fantasy world with trolls, Igors, and vampires.

I also recommend Robert A. Heinlein because
a) he's simply one of my favorite authors anyway
b) he writes strong women.
In particular I'm in love with Hazel stone/ Sadie Lipschiz/ Gwen Novac from The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.

Strangely enough, Princess Lea as portrayed in some of the Star Wars sequel novels might be thought of as kick-a$$. I wouldn't know which particular one to recommend, though.

Jan 19, 2009, 9:15pm Top

Try Elizabeth Moon--whether Heris Serrano (Hunting Party, Sporting Chance, Winning Colors, then 4 more books in that setting) or the more recent Vatta's War books (5 books, starting with Trading in Danger.

Jennifer Wingert's book, Grasp the Stars

Linnea Sinclair writes strong female leads if you don't mind the romance element in the stories.

You might like Agent of Change, etc., by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The POV is shared between Miri and Val Con, but she is one tough character indeed.

I also like the Telzey and Trigger books, and the early Honor Harrington, the Valor books. Some people like the Kris Longknife books.

Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 9:17pm Top

Speaking of Bujold, Cordelia in the first two Vorkosigan novels - Shards of Honor and Barrayar (or Cordelia's Honor in the possibly-more-common omnibus) is a pretty darn good one. There are interesting and strong women throughout the series, but those are the only two in which one is the primary focus. Cordelia is a soldier from an equality-crazy planet thrust into a situation where she confronts a rather more gendered military society.

I could have sworn that I read a lot of awesome sci fi heroines as a teen, but the only things I can think of outside of those are Anne McCaffrey's Rowan and Crystal Singer series. I loved them at 14 - I'm not sure how well they manage to hold up, though.

I think I do a little better on this topic with awesome fantasy heroines!

Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 9:44pm Top

Jack McDevitt has a series of six novels based on Priscilla Hutchins ("Hutch"), an interstellar pilot. The books are The Engines of God, Deepsix, Chindi, Omega, Odyssey, and Cauldron. This is a very good series.

Jan 20, 2009, 1:37am Top

Pretty hard to get more kick arse than Joel Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov series - Crossover/Breakaway/Killswitch, which is definitely quasi-military.

Jan 20, 2009, 1:44am Top

ryn_books mentions Ariane Emory from Cyteen. Another very strong female character from C J Cherryh, and more in the kick-ass category, might be Captain Signy Mallory of Downbelow Station and related books.

Jan 20, 2009, 2:17am Top

The Jani Killian series by kristine smith, starting with code of conduct are political/military sci-fi with a strong female lead.

The Merrimack books by r m meluch starting with The myriad: tour of the merrimack are military sci-fi stuffed with kick-ass wisecracking marines of both genders.

The outback stars by sandra mcdonald,
the cassini division by ken macleod
grasp the stars by jennifer wingert
and the Chanur books by c j cherryh (although the ass-kicking females in question aren't human).

Edited: Jan 20, 2009, 3:26am Top

Try Karen Traviss and her Wess'har Wars series. The first one is City Of Pearl.

A number of people like Elizabeth Bear's Jenny Casey novels. I've only read a short story and didn't much care for it because it was too mil-SF for me.

Stepping away from the mil-SF (and boy does that feel good - I'm not a big fan of the sub-genre) you have the arse-kicker Lila Black in her Quantum Gravity series which is written by Justina Robson.

Apart from that I know lots of books which have strong female characters (even leads) but they aren't arse-kickers so I won't mention them.

Jan 20, 2009, 11:30am Top

Peter Watts' Starfish trilogy/tetralogy has a very strong female lead ... the individual books are: Starfish, Maelstrom, Behemoth: B-Max, and Behemoth: Seppuku.

Jennifer Government by Max Barry also comes to mind.

Jan 20, 2009, 2:57pm Top

Reverdy Jian, the protagonist/dreamship captain in Melissa Scott's Dreamships.

Jan 20, 2009, 4:48pm Top

Wow, this is great! I had no idea there were going to be so many to choose from. Thanks! Looks like i'll have plenty to keep me busy this summer :).

Jan 20, 2009, 6:32pm Top

If you tend towards hard SciFi then here's another vote for Jack McDevitt

Jan 20, 2009, 6:44pm Top

Slightly OT
- the Fantasy Group has an ongoing strong female suggestion thread here http://www.librarything.com/topic/10665

Jan 20, 2009, 7:12pm Top

The Stars My Destination.

Jan 20, 2009, 8:41pm Top

Since I just finished it, I'll put in a vote for Survivor -- it's all about the female lead's strength and independence.

Jan 21, 2009, 6:33am Top

#17 - ryn_books, that was actually my inspiration for this thread. I've picked a few from that list as well :).

Jan 21, 2009, 10:11am Top

I would echo the suggestions of Elizabeth Bear and C. J. Cherryh and add Catherine Asaro, Sharrow in Against a Dark Background, DeWar in Inversions, Paula Mendoza in Floating Worlds, Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark in Vacuum Flowers and Parrish Plessis in Nylon Angel.

Edited: Jan 30, 2009, 3:10am Top

Heinlein's Glory Road and Samples' Fe Fi FOE Comes both have strong female leads.

Jan 30, 2009, 4:21am Top

Must you spam other threads as well?

Jan 30, 2009, 4:42am Top

Must you spread your pork pie over each and every message I post?

Edited: Jan 30, 2009, 11:43am Top

I read the first of the Xenogenesis trilogy from Octavia Butler. The main character is wonderfully round and strong (and by round, I mean not rotund, but on a growth cycle that's very believable and satisfying). It's Dawn.

Edited: Jan 30, 2009, 10:37am Top

I'm not sure I understand the spammishness of the simple declarative statement, "Heinlein's Glory road and Samples' Fe Fi Foe Comes both have strong female leads."

Isn't that the sort of thing for which this thread was intended? The fact that Fe Fi Foe Comes is controversial in these parts doesn't make the mention of it spam.

Really, is this a private club?

Jan 30, 2009, 10:42am Top

Fair point. I notice the message has been zapped, although I didn't flag it. I've not flagged any of Cyops posts - I enjoy the argument too much :-)

Jan 30, 2009, 10:49am Top

... and back to the thread at hand: Although it was fairly depressing, I who have never known men by Jacqueline Harpman is ceratinly on my list of little-known books that deserve a much wider audience.

Jan 30, 2009, 12:35pm Top

#26 - 27

Maybe DWWillig japped it. He is very unhappy with the discussion of Fe Fi FOE Comes which nevertheless has very strong female leads.

We'll see how long it takes this one to be japped.

Jan 30, 2009, 9:03pm Top

I would have to second Engines of God, I really enjoyed that book.

Jan 30, 2009, 11:09pm Top

Heinlein's Friday.

Edited: Jan 31, 2009, 12:14am Top

Yes Friday is great ... an enhanced artificial person. Written in 1982 it was the first popular mention of the Alaska Free State ... an autonomous region.

Jan 31, 2009, 4:56am Top


Firstly. a number of your messages could be flagged because of some of your word-choices. Gypped and japped could be seen as offensive (or even racist) language.

Secondly, it takes a number of people to flag your message for it to be hidden. One single person (or even a couple of people) can't do it by themselves.

Jan 31, 2009, 6:36am Top


It could even be plain old censorship ... such as the 'zapping' of the OP in the Fe Fi FOE Comes thread. Since multiple people have been extremely hostile there it is surely no surprise that several of them could have hit the flag button. Integrity is not exactly a treasured value in the world we live in.

Jan 31, 2009, 7:04am Top

Also you throw the censorship line out way too much. In no way can the flagging of a post be seen as censorship. Not merely because it lacks any central authority (or indeed any central active agency) but also because the post is still there and people who are really interested can still see what you wrote if they care to.

Jan 31, 2009, 7:52am Top


Why the need to defend people flagging other people's posts simply because they don't agree with the content? geneg is point on ... "Really, is this a private club?" That's not to say geneg agrees with my posts ... that's not the point.

It's like the Nazi's saying, "well sure we burned the books, but it's not censorship, you can drive over to Switzerland and read them if you like."

The example is extreme, but the principle is the same.

Edited: Jan 31, 2009, 8:24am Top

I am flagging your post #36 because it is a direct insult towards me (as well as Godwinising the thread) - it is the first time I have flagged one of your posts. I do not normally comment on my individual flagging (and indeed we are encouraged not to) but with the direct comparison to Nazism I felt that I must in this case as you would otherwise take it as being more ammunition in your delusion that it is you vs. the world (for those who are interested read the Fe Fi FOE Comes topic).

I would note that the terms & conditions say "Egregious commercial solicitation is forbidden." Now when it comes down to Fe Fi FOE Comes you may be a fanboy, a true believer, one who has drunk the kool-aid (to use the American idiom) but there does seem to be a coordinated program (see GoodReads and Amazon) of completely non-critical reviews. If people feel you are part of that coordinated program then they will flag your posts feeling it is part of an astroturfing campaign. The solution is obvious. Write about something other than that book.

Edited: Jan 31, 2009, 8:19am Top

There is in my opinion too much flagging of Cyops' posts. His pushing of his favourite book hasn't got to the level of spamming: his thread about it is in a relevant group, and where I've seen him mention it in other threads, it is not wildly off-topic. Yes, his language can be offensive and he stoops to personal attacks, but if he said about me what he has said about others, I would simply regard it as the crackling of thorns under a pot.

ETA - written before I saw message 37.

Jan 31, 2009, 8:24am Top


Personal attacks are also something which are against the rules and can be flagged (and people other than the target sometimes do so).

Jan 31, 2009, 10:42am Top

at least in the OP you can click "show" and the post shows up..it hasn't been deleted just put into the "over 18" section @ the video store.

Jan 31, 2009, 11:26am Top

"Personal attacks are also something which are against the rules and can be flagged "

True, but comparing you to a Nazi is a megafail: let it stand and let readers laugh.

Jan 31, 2009, 12:44pm Top

Flagging these messages is a chicken-shit way of having a discourse.

Jan 31, 2009, 12:49pm Top

Hey. Guys. The person who started this thread wanted suggestions on stories with strong female characters. Can we please stick to the thread and take the Cyops complaints to his marketing thread at Fe Fio FOE Comes?

Jan 31, 2009, 2:51pm Top

There was/were no personal attacks. The references were to censorship. I don't know who did what flagging, and I really don't care. IMO flagging people's posts is rude and censorship.

Wattsian is right ... my initial post here was regarding two books which had strong female leads ... I also agreed with the post on Friday. Everything else has been in response to the need to belittle my support of Fe Fi FOE Comes. I guess the thread on Heinlein's works is a marketing thread for those books.

Get over it.

Jan 31, 2009, 3:09pm Top


Making a weak comparison between someone and the Nazis isn't a personal attack? What kind of person believes that?

On to books with strong female leads - if YA books are OK then The H-Bomb Girl by Stephen Baxter qualifies. It is an alternate history and although aimed at teenagers extremely readable, it was also nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Edited: Jan 31, 2009, 3:35pm Top

I liked the first books in the Wess'har Wars series, which does indeed has a very strong female protagonist, but the quality of the books deteriorates to the point where I've given up on the series.

The Cordelia books by Lois McMaster Bujold, the Valor series by Tanya Huff , and the Honor Harrington series by David Weber are all space opera type books, and pretty good, although the Harrington books are a bit cliched and becomes less readable as the series progresses.

If you like dystopian/post-apocalyptic books, Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing and Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler are great stories with strong female leads, and so is He, She and It by Marge Piercy. Non of them particularly ass-kicking, though.

ETA: Other good books with strong female protagonists;
Tinker and sequel Wolf who Rules by Wen Spencer
Doomsday book by Connie Willis
Lethe by Tricia Sullivan
Marks of our Brothers by Jane Lindskold
Smoke and Mirrors by Jane Lindskold
An Alien Light by Nancy Kress
This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman
In Conquest Born and sequel The Wilding by C. S. Friedman (the the sequel isn't as good as the first one)

Jan 31, 2009, 3:41pm Top

My experience with series, while limited, always winds up with a thousand page book spread out over two thousand pages.

I read the first six of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. the first three were okay, the second three went on a downhill ride. So much for series. I try to avoid them if I can, they require commitment to works of less and less imagination.

Oh, and I read the first 11 1/2 of the Left Behind series. It suffered from the same fate, deteriorating into the unreadable at what should have been its crowning glory.

Jan 31, 2009, 3:43pm Top

If you didn't burn books and then send people off to Switzerland to read copies of the books you burned why would you feel you were attacked?

You could say that To Sail Beyond the Sunset had a strong female lead ... you could say that for Hazel in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Jan 31, 2009, 9:45pm Top

For a kick-ass female lead you might try Fire in the Mist by Holly Lisle.

Jan 31, 2009, 11:19pm Top

If you extend "kick ass" to political action - Patricia Anthony, esp. in Cradle of Splendor. Also a terrific SF book - Brazil looks to rule space.

Edited: Jan 31, 2009, 11:53pm Top

Another CJ Cherryh suggestion: RIMRUNNERS. The protagonist, Elizabeth "Bet" Yeager, certainly qualifies as kick-a$$:

I forgot to mention Selina Rosen. The opening page of Selina's website proclaims: "Looking for good, hard-hitting fiction with strong female characters -- some lesbian, some straight -- all kick a$$?"


Note Selina's QUEEN OF DENIAL lights her cigar with a laser:

...and uses a ray gun to pop the top of her beer bottle on the sequel's cover:

Jan 31, 2009, 11:58pm Top

I like Cast in Secret by Michelle Sagara. It has a female heroine who is leaning trust herself and grow and become powerful. The only problem is that series go on a lot of the main character is late all time. That makes me a little tired.

Feb 1, 2009, 2:52am Top


I agree about the Left Behind series ... the first book was interesting, but the ending was less than satisfactory, and the series never really got to the point of resolving the whole issue of the Rapture.

Feb 1, 2009, 3:32am Top


Yeah, Selina Rosen, most definitely.

Feb 1, 2009, 12:14pm Top

Califia's Daughters by Leigh Richards. Post-apocalyptic.

And I liked Strange Robby by Selina - the 'strong' female's name is Spider Webb ...

Feb 3, 2009, 12:40pm Top

What exactly do you mean by strong female characters? You mean like Zena or Sheena of the Jungle? Or do you mean like the atty in Discourse - or the female protagonist in Discourse? Or is Lara Croft the model? Should she be able to physically fight? Be a Princess? What?

Feb 3, 2009, 12:43pm Top

Alexandra in O Pioneers! comes to mind as a strong female character. A woman competent in a man's world.

Feb 3, 2009, 12:55pm Top

#57 Was she a Lara Croft type personality?

Feb 3, 2009, 1:06pm Top

Lilo in The Ophiuchi Hotline would be a decent addition to this list.

Feb 3, 2009, 1:10pm Top

No. She is smarter than most men of her day, more willing to take chances and innovate, more successful, and far more reliant on her own good judgment than on the judgment of those men around her. Of course this brings out the jealousy of the men around her and they start thinking of her as a woman meddling in things best left to the menfolk. Of course these are the same menfolk who were failing before she and her ways and judgment reversed the fortunes of the area.

There are also inheritance issues involved which are nearly always ugly where men are involved. They would remove inheritance rights from her because she is a woman. In this case a woman in love, with all the potential for screwing up her brothers' plans if she has children of her own.

It's mostly, so far, I'm not finished a story of a smart woman getting the best of not so smart men and how the men use sexism rather than merit as a means of rationalizing their desire to be superior to her. The "oh, she's just a woman" attitude.

Feb 3, 2009, 1:22pm Top

Interesting ... I have seen that before, or something similar.

Ah ... it was a movie with Melanie Griffin, Harrison Ford, and Siqourney Weaver ... but without the inheritance issues, or the more complex attitudes of the men.

Feb 3, 2009, 1:23pm Top

61: Of course, the book in question predated the movie you reference by 70+ years.

Feb 3, 2009, 1:55pm Top

Since the women are in SF novels rather than mainstream American lit., I would say you have to take kiss-ass literally. Josh Wheedon's Buffy if it was set in space and a book rather than a TV series. The point is he writes strong female characters who are 'heroes' rather than heroines. Post the golden age of SF there has been rather a tradition of these in modern SF. Probably due to the rise of the feminist movement but also to the appeal of domineering women to dateless adolescent males. I can't think of too many strong females in the sword and sorcery books though there they are back to swooning at the sight of blood or biceps.

Feb 3, 2009, 2:35pm Top

63: Perhaps the Chicks in Chainmail series by Esther Friesner would fit the bill for female sword and sorcery leads.

Feb 3, 2009, 2:51pm Top

>63 justifiedsinner:

Or any of Mercedes Lackey's female characters--Kerowyn, the female mercenary in By the Sword, is plenty kick-ass.

Feb 3, 2009, 3:07pm Top

the appeal of domineering women to dateless adolescent males.


Feb 3, 2009, 9:09pm Top

#62 It wasn't SciFi either. Actually remakes of older movies are quite common. Try Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Not of This Earth. The same is true of music.

Feb 4, 2009, 5:47am Top

Aaargh! After posting #63 above I remembered Red Sonja but my mind was running more on the lines of John Norman and Gor.

Feb 5, 2009, 11:46am Top

> 63, 64

Speaking of more swords-and-socery, I've been making my way through The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies and have been absolutely dumbfounded at the number of intensely kick-ass women in both of them. They don't tend to be main characters, but there are a number of exceedingly badass secondary characters who do a number of exceedingly badass things.

Feb 5, 2009, 1:17pm Top

The Tour of the Merrimack books by R. M. Meluch, The Myriad, Wolf Star, The Sagittarius Command and Strength and Honor all have strong female characters.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:30pm Top

The Vatta series by Elizabeth Moon (staring with Trading in Danger) has a strong female lead who is kicked out of military school. Lots of space battles.

Feb 27, 2009, 7:27am Top

Bernice Summerfield is a character who started off in a Doctor Who original fiction novel Love and War by Paul Cornell, it was published by Virgin Publishing and she was a present companion to the Doctor for quite a lot of the New Adventures' run.
But when Virgin lost the Doctor Who license she was spun-off into her own series.

Bernice Summerfield is an archaeologist in the 26th century, who generally drinks a bit, has adventures. (She was also in the military, but went AWOL halfway through training and other various fun things happen to her along the way)

The first stand-alone novel was Oh No It Isn't! by the character's creator Paul Cornell.

Her adventures are still ongoing (especially considering she first appeared in Love and War in 1992), her adventures are both on audio and in print form, now both being published by Big Finish Productions.

Feb 27, 2009, 11:34am Top

Bernice sounds a bit like the Professor River Song character, played by Alex Kingston, in the 'Silence in the Library' episode (Tenth Doctor).

Feb 27, 2009, 3:17pm Top

I would suggest Black Canary or Wonder Woman. They where good examples

Feb 28, 2009, 1:33am Top


Yeah that was a comparison made when the episode was broadcast.
Bernice Summerfield is played (on audio) by Lisa Bowerman.

Bernice is also quite different from Song.

Mar 11, 2013, 1:04am Top

" On Silver Wings " is one of the books you'll want to read.

Mar 11, 2013, 7:31am Top

Strong females is a major element of Steampunk, so perhaps you should try some of that.

Leviathan, Boneshaker, Soulless, The Iron Wyrm Affair, amongst others.

Edited: Mar 11, 2013, 9:46am Top

Can it be so late in this thread and no one has mentioned my personal hero, Cirocco Jones? Titan Wizard Demon John Varley' s Gaen Trilogy.

and, of course, Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games.

Mar 11, 2013, 9:50am Top

#78 Not to mention Anna-Louise Bach.

Edited: Mar 11, 2013, 12:25pm Top

> 68

Red Atalanta Sonja (creation of Roy Thomas for comics, passably novelized by David C. Smith and Richard Tierney) is much-imitated, in my experience of the wider sword-and-sorcery genre--although it's often impossible to guess whether an author was more inspired by the superior heroine Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore. I recently read and reviewed Conan the Bold, a non-REH Conan novel featuring a young Conan partnered with a vengeance-seeking swordswoman.

Also, John Norman's derivative* Gor notwithstanding, Edgar Rice Burroughs set precedents with Dejah Thoris for sword-and-planet warrior women. Gods of Xuma is the second of David J. Lake's two Xuma novels, which are a bit more sophisticated than the usual sword-and-planet, and it features a female human protagonist. (A central issue of those books is the six-gendered Xuman race.)

ETA: For sword-and-planet, see also "Black Amazon of Mars" by Leigh Brackett, as depicted in the Planet Stories cover used as this group's image, and discussed recently in the Weird Tradition group.

* EATA clarity.

Mar 11, 2013, 12:17pm Top

Also, Gor notwithstanding, Edgar Rice Burroughs set precedents with Dejah Thoris for sword-and-planet warrior women.

I'm slightly confused by the "Gor notwithstanding" insertion into this sentence. Burroughs didn't write any of the Gor books.

Mar 11, 2013, 12:21pm Top

Plus the Gor books were extremely sexist and include scenes of rape and submissive females.

Edited: Mar 11, 2013, 12:40pm Top

> 81

No, but he was patently John Norman's chief inspiration. And Gor accounts for more shelf-inches than most other sword-and-planet ouevres. That's all. Good to clarify, though. ETA: Also, I was responding to #68, which mentioned Gor.

> 82

Right, that's why I wanted to be explicit in fencing off that province of the sword-and-planet territory.

Mar 11, 2013, 12:28pm Top

83: Well, it seems that almost anyone writing sword and planet books will take Burroughs as their chief inspiration, so that's kind of a given.

Mar 11, 2013, 11:28pm Top

I'll second (or third, or whatever) Elizabeth Moon's Vatta & Familias series -- probably the closest match for your request of ass-kicking female lead and military-style adventure.
Also the idea of Pyanfar in the Chanur series by C.J. Cherryh.

Two I think I didn't see here:
Emily Devenport - Eggheads; Shade

Eluki Bes Shahar - Hellflower and sequels
(I didn't know that Bes Shahar is really Rosemary Edgehill, until just now when I couldn't get the touchstone to work & looked her up!)

Edited: Mar 21, 2013, 7:51am Top

(85) rshart3, I am glad you mentioned Pyanfar.

No one mentioned Taizu from The Paladin, or the Morgaine main character, created by CJ Cherryh.

Edited: Mar 23, 2013, 4:56am Top

The Great North Road by Hamilton has a strong female lead. Not without debate, given that Hamilton gives her a lot of male ideas of female strength - allure, mystery, secrets, sexuality etc, but she is pretty kick ass and clever too.

Mar 25, 2013, 3:50pm Top

I hope this isn't violating the etiquette here or anything, but I wrote a science-fiction cyberpunk novel with a strong female protagonist recently. Madame Einzige, the philosophizing hacker-revolutionary, who takes on Big Government, the Corporation, and the unintended consequences of technology. Just released a few weeks ago:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1482396939 (Synopsis + Reviews)

http://madame-einzige.com/ (Website)

Madame Einzige is charismatic, eloquent, and hardened, with a tortured survivalist mentality and a Cassandra complex. In the novel (first in a projected series), she is deployed to Central Asia in 2033 and participates in a kind of Central Asian revolutionary Spring against the Russian-backed governments and oligarchs. She engages in cyber-warfare, organizes and participates in militant uprisings, and poses as an agent provocateur.

The issue of whether a "strong female" is just a man in a woman's body is something I asked myself many times throughout the writing of book-- and it's an *old* question, actually. Do we pigeon-hole certain traits as "Masculine" or "Feminine"? Strength, ambition, and individualism as masculine -- empathy, selflessness, and collectivism as feminine?

What about bombastic, strong, and even ruthless historical females like Queen Elizabeth I, Zenobia, Boudica, Empress Theodora, and the Scythian Amazons? Or in mythology -- Athena's martial strength and prudent warrior wisdom, Ereshkigal/Irkalla as the queen-guardian of death and the Underworld, or Kali's insatiable appetite for excessive chaos, death, and destruction?

I don't think strength -- or even martial prowess -- can be pigeon-holed simply as "masculine" traits, and likewise vice-versa. That said, there are definitely challenges and differences *peculiar* to the female condition in taking up strength than the male condition -- biological, social attitudes and expectations, cultural, etc.

Edited: Mar 25, 2013, 4:12pm Top

I don't think it's too much of breach, considering it was definitely on topic (and you didn't start the topic as a sneaky way of plugging it). :)

I was just thinking about this recently as well (perhaps because of this topic). It's hard to ever figure out how much role biology plays because culture just drowns it out. If you take a "typical" woman from Western society and put her in many places in the world, she will be considered to be acting too "masculine." And if you took a woman from many societies we in the West would consider less equal to women and transported her back in time to many societies through history, they would also feel she was acting too "masculine."

Likewise, you transport just about any "typical" Western man to these locales (try ancient Sparta!) and they'll probably find the attitudes of that man to be very "feminine."

I think a lot of these are obviously rooted in biology, such as the differences in musculature. The more "progressive" a society gets, the more it tries to shake off those differences. Firearms may also play a role.

Bringing this back to SF, it makes me really wonder what humanity will be like once it can break through that biological barrier between the sexes. What happens when all people have both equal ability to attack/defend.

Should their be any real differences in the sexes in a book like Marrow, where all the people are basically postmortal and nearly indestructible?

Mar 25, 2013, 7:54pm Top

'Marrow' is an interesting example; much of the story is about the relationship between two powerful women. Ditto Al Reynolds' Pushing ice...

Jul 7, 2013, 2:10pm Top

At the risk of being flagged for pushing my own books, I have a penchant for strong female protagonists. I'd like to mention Jade Darcy and the Affair of Honor and Jade Darcy and the Zen Pirates, both by Stephen Goldin and Mary Mason.

I also think starship captain Ardeva Korrell in my Assault on the Gods is one tough cookie.

I'll also second the recommendation of Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series

Jul 8, 2013, 7:35am Top

Oooh - how could I've missed this thread!
Since it wasn't mentioned and one of my favourite books - Catherine Li from the Spin Series by Chris Moriarty . The First book Spin State has more action than the others, the 2nd Spin Control is a bit of an info dump (but still enjoyable with action), and the third one Ghost Spin not sure yet (lol) but looks promising (in terms of action) so far.

CheerZ :D

Jul 8, 2013, 5:10pm Top

For those who love literature (and if you don't, what are you doing here at LT), there's the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Thursday lives in a very peculiar alternate world, which has even more peculiar alternate worlds branching off of it. Start from the first book The Eyre Affair and move on up. Be prepared to laugh a lot at the preposterous wit. This is definitely for fans of Terry Pratchett.

Edited: Jul 14, 2013, 1:09pm Top

I was looking at neat SF paperback covers and saw Podkayne of Mars . I read this years ago I am sure but remember very little - does it qualify?

Jul 14, 2013, 2:00am Top

Poddy was a very resourceful young lady, but hardly "kick-ass". She was only "eight plus a few months" so probably under 16 Earth years old. I think the cover on my New English Library paperback is probably more apt.

Jul 14, 2013, 9:41am Top

Underage cheesecake shots; what an awful turn for a thread like this.

Edited: Jul 14, 2013, 1:15pm Top

#96 Yep, they were on a list of somewhat titillating covers for SF paperbacks from around the world. The illustration on the left is from the most recent paperback edition of the book {2010} and the one on the right is from the very first publication of Podkayne of Mars I believe {Worlds of Science Fiction November 1962 }

But if those photos offend you I will remove them. Here is a link to a list of paperback book covers for the title that I linked to.

I have not read the book in a great while. I think I was in elementary school which is when I read the most SF. Was it a titillating story of a young female? Frankly I don't remember any scene with a Arabian dancing girl in it but there it is unless I got the provenance wrong.

Jul 14, 2013, 1:28pm Top

I'm sure that the publisher thought that the covers would appeal to the adolescent males that it was targeting as readers.

Thanks, Dugsbooks for showing us what it was like "then." And brightcopy for calling it out, which would only happen "today."

Jul 14, 2013, 1:48pm Top

One of my favorite heroines is Susan Sto Lat from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. I believe she first appears in Soul Music, and is also in Hogfather and at least one more. Kick-ass? She's Death's granddaughter, for gods' sake!

Jul 14, 2013, 3:37pm Top

#99 by stephengoldin> You could fill a whole list just with Pratchett's strong female leads (and major supporting characters) all by themselves: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Angua, Sybil Ramkin, Cheri Littlebottom (technically a FEMALE dwarf!) and Adora Belle Dearheart to name just a few more.

(And just a minor correction - it's actually "Susan Sto Helit". "Sto Lat" is, of course, a city in Discworld.)

Jul 14, 2013, 5:08pm Top

Two other of Pratchett's witches, Nanny Ogg and Magrat, were based on different sides of one woman's personality, a well-known UK fan alas no longer with us. She was quite capable of being the floaty Earth mother one minute, and dancing on a table singing 'The hedgehog can never be buggered at all' the next. At one time this lady (for Gytha was always the lady) worked in a Social Security office, and if she was off to a Viking moot at the weekend, would go into the office on the Friday in full Viking gear, with axe - and would go out onto the public enquiry counter, bang the axe down noisily, and shout "WHO'S NEXT?".

In those days, management put up with individualism far more than now, sadly...

Jul 15, 2013, 5:43am Top

Dr Hera Melhuish in The disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann

Jennifer Ramos Kennedy in The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski

Venera Fanning in the Virga series

Yalda in The clockwork rocket by Greg Egan
NB Although female, Yalda's race replicates by division

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